Friday, May 13, 2011

It could be worse.

Yesterday will go down in history as a date that will forever live in cyberspace infamy.

Yesterday Blogger crashed.

Thankfully, the site is now back up and running.  But unfortunately for the people who compose their Friday posts on Thursday nights, this was a bit of a thorn in my ass.

Your regularly scheduled Sugared Cinema post and the photos to accompany it are sitting on the Mac at home with no place to go.  Sorry folks.  Although I suppose it could be worse.

I could be stuck in an elevator with a porcupine coming off of a three day speed binge.

I could be the designated Quality Control taster at the Grape Nuts plant.

I could be Naomi Campbell's personal assistant.

I could be the editor-in-chief for the National Tax Journal.

It could be Thursday.


Happy Friday, kids.  If you see Blogger, smile and give them a discreet little warning pinch in the side for me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Boys.

When I was at my parents' house on Sunday, my mom pulled out a folder of my old grade school stuff.  I found this note in there. 


4th grade.  The year when baby fat ruled my world and sticks and stones would have been a welcome change of pace.  If given a hot tub time machine, I would travel back to 1989 and thank those little shitheads, whose daily heckling helped me discover my backbone and inadvertently taught me a lesson that I'll carry on to my own kids one day.

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be a-holes.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sugared Cinema: Stand By Me (1986)


I'm kinda hungry, who's got the food?
Oh shit! Did anybody bring anything?
No! Gordie?
No.
Oh, this is great. What are we supposed to do, eat our feet?
You mean you didn't bring anything, either?
Well shit, this wasn't my idea, this was Vern's idea!  Why didn't you bring something?
What am I supposed to do, think of everything? I brought the comb!
Great, you brought the comb! What do you need a comb for? You don't even have any hair!
I brought it for you guys so...
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! Let's see how much money we've got.
Ok, I've got a dollar two...sixty-eight cents from Chris...sixty cents from Teddy...

Seven cents, Vern?

The year was 1986.  Paul "Dundee" Hogan received a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.  A pre-home videoed Tommy Lee married Heather Locklear.  And Rob Reiner, who would go on to direct future classics like The Princess Bride and When Harry Met Sally (both of which I've not seen much to the dismay of anyone with eyes), helped bring one of Stephen King's short stories to the big screen.  Stand By Me. 

While my childhood adventures never included a search for dead bodies, the movie always evokes a nostalgia for those final days of summer spent with friends.  Before the reality of a new school year set in, before the #2 Faber-Castells were sharpened, before the insomnia inevitably kicks in the night before the first day...there were those Stand By Me days.

Today's recipe is in honor of one of the best narrative scenes from the movie and, quite possibly, in cinematic history.

Slowly, a sound started to build in Lardass' stomach. A strange and scary sound, like a log truck coming at you at a hundred miles-an-hour. Suddenly, Lardass opened his mouth, and before Bill Travis knew it...


 ...he was covered with five pies worth of used blueberries. The women in the audience screamed. Bossman Bob Cormier took one look at Bill Travis and barfed on Principal Wiggins, who barfed on the lumberjack that was sitting next to him. Mayor Grundy barfed on his wife's tits. But when the smell hit the crowd, that's when Lardass' plan really started to work. Girlfriends barfed on boyfriends. Kids barfed on their parents. A fat lady barfed in her purse. The Donnelley twins barfed on each other, and the Women's Auxiliary barfed all over the Benevolent Order of Antelopes. And Lardass just sat back and enjoyed what he'd created - a complete and total...barf-o-rama. 


Blueberry Pie.  Easy as...well yeah.
Recipe from pickyourown.org

Makes one 9-inch pie

3-4 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
2/3 cup granulated sugar
7 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
3 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
one prepared pie shell

While this recipe calls for a 9-inch pie plate, I couldn't resist using my grandma's old mini pie tins.  They were just too darling to pass up. 



Preheat your oven to 375 F.

Rinse and drain the blueberries with cold water.  Remove any stems and mushy berries from the bunch.

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients:  sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and allspice.  Mix well.

Add the water and lemon juice and mix well.  Again.

Pour the blueberries into the prepared crust.  Pile 'em up.  They'll shrink down as they bake.


Evenly pour the sugar-liquid mixture all over the berries.


Cover the top with another round of pie crust and pinch the edges to seal.  Cut a few slits in the top to vent.

Brush the top with a mixture of beaten egg and a small amount of water.  Bake the pie for 1 hour.

Let the pie cool before cutting.  If you have the patience, it tastes even better the next day.

In case it wasn't obvious by the shoddy crustwork and use of pre-made dough, pies are foreign territory to me.  This filling is ridiculously easy to make and totally piqued my interest in pie-making.  Just gotta work on the crust.

So yeah.  Make this pie.  It's awesome.


P.S.  It won't make you barf.



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

If.


Hey.  Let's forget about work for a few minutes.  Go ahead and minimize that mind-numbing spreadsheet.  Put your phone on "Do Not Disturb" mode.  The weekend is only four days away and I vote we do something fun.  Let's play a round of "If..."

Album
Movie
Food
Drink
Something sweet

If you could watch/listen to/consume only one of each for the rest of your life, what would you pick? 

Album:  Hmm.  Three-way toss up between Amy Winehouse - Frank, the Sweeney Todd soundtrack and N.E.R.D. - In Search of...

Movie:  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Food:  Pizza.  I know.  So predictable.  A suitable answer for a kindygartner.  But this is a craving that never goes away.  Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at suppertime!  The jingle engineers over at the Bagel Bites HQ had the right idea, even though I never questioned the fact that suppertime and the evening are pretty much one and the same.

Drink:  iced tea, unsweetened or Yards Pale Ale

Something sweet:  a fudge brownie

Now, my choices aren't necessarily my all-time favorites.  The key here (since we are talking eternity and all) is replay value.  For example, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours = one of the best albums of all time.  But would I want to listen to it everyday?  With the exception of The Chain, probably not.  My favorite dessert is a butterscotch bread pudding they serve Berry White's restaurant.  Freaking insane.  But would I be able to eat it everyday?  No.  It's a dessert I prefer to save for special occasions or every other week, whatever comes first.

Now a brownie, on the other hand, is an entirely different story altogether.  To bite off the words of Juno MacGuff:  as far as sweets go, brownies are totally boss.  They are the cheese to my macaroni.  And I could, without a doubt, eat one every day until the end of days.

I used a boxed mix for the Sex Panther brownies a few weeks back but it wasn't until a hankering hit the other day that I realized I didn't have a go-to recipe for "from scratch" brownies.

King Arthur came to my rescue.


 Seriously Ridiculous Fudge Brownies
Recipe from King Arthur Flour

Makes 2 dozen brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder (I omitted this)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups chocolate chips (omitted these, as well)

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.

In a medium saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter.  Stir in sugar.  Heat until the mixture is hot (but not bubbling) to help dissolve more of the sugar.


In a separate medium bowl, combine the cocoa, salt, baking power, espresso powder (if using) and vanilla.  Beat in the eggs.

Add the butter mixture to the bowl and stir until smooth.  

Finally, add the flour (and chips, if using them) and stir once more until smooth.  The battle will be thick like delicious, chocolate-y mud.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test.


Cool completely before hacking in.


Yep.  Great replay value.



Friday, April 29, 2011

Busybiotch.

Between cleaning up after an incessantly pukey feline, stifling some major waterworks after repeated viewings of the final Harry Potter trailer and preparing for a custom cupcake order for Saturday, I just didn't have the time to put together a Sugared Cinema post.  I lose.

The days leading up to a big order are typically filled with a nervous kind of energy, the kind that requires just about every ounce of my attention and that can only be alleviated with a 5-7% ABV beer (any higher and there won't be any cupcakes left to deliver) and one of our 2-at-a-time Netflix rentals playing in the background.

Current selections being:


Trying to decide which one would pair better with a baking and piping session.  Hm.

Have a happy weekend, guys.  Peace, love and Claritin®.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When in doubt, doodle.


If I had a band member for every time I asked myself, "What do I want to do with my life?", I'd have enough band members to form the original Funkadelic.

Life is weird and question-y this week.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sugared Television: Ren & Stimpy (1991-1996)



What rolls down stairs
alone or in pairs
rolls over your neighbor's dog?
What's great for a snack
and fits on your back?

It's Log! Log! Log!


Before there was Spongebob.
Before there was Fairly Odd Parents.
Before there was even The Powerpuff Girls.

There was Ren Hoek and Stimpson J. Cat.


The quickest route to feeling old and jaded?  Watch five minutes of a prime time Disney Channel show.  The other night, driven by sheer curiosity and a fermented bottled beverage, I let my clicking thumb slacken once it reached the Disney Channel.  Disappointing, I tell you.  Some questionable fashion choices, too.  Egads.

It's not even a matter of wholesome "ahh, the good ol' days" yearnings.  Any Ren & Stimpy fan knows that couldn't be further from the truth.  It's the originality that's missing!  The off-color humor!  The flatulent breakfast superheroes!  The jarring visual of a beaver gnawing on the exposed nerve of a rotting tooth!

That's what's missing.  Maturity.

This post has been brought to you by Sugar Frosted Milk, Pretty Kitty Litter and Log by Blammo!

Ren & Stimpy Log Cookies

You'll need:

 rolled sugar cookie dough
4 batches of royal icing (see colors below pic)


Dark Brown for the outline and wood grain details.
Brick Red to fill in the wood.
Tangerine for the top of the log.
 Salmon-y Pink for the spot details.

This is a pretty basic tutorial.  If you have any questions about which piping tips I used, colors, etc feel free to email me.  I promise I won't stalk you (unless you work for, are related to or personally know Alan Rickman.)

Print and cut out the log.  This will be your template.


Place the template on chilled, rolled cookie dough and trace around it with an Exacto knife.  While I typically like a fatter cookie, I roll the dough out to a 1/4" thickness when doing more intricate designs.  The cookies hold their shape better.


Bake and cool the logs.

Outline with the dark brown icing.  Let sit for a few minutes while it firms up.


Flood the tops with tangerine icing.


Then flood the body with the red icing.


While the red icing is still wet, carefully pipe elongated dots of pink icing on top of the red.


When the flooded areas have set, pipe on the wood grain details.


It's better than bad.  It's good.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Cleaning.


My patio is looking quite busted these days.

The scene is usually the same this time of year.  The Little Shop of Horror weeds have pushed their way up through the cloth lining and thinning layer of pea gravel.  Clumps of dry pine needles collect in dark crevices that I dare not touch with a gloved hand or a disposable chopstick.  The ferns are fireballs waiting to be ignited by some douchey neighbor or passerby with a smoking (and littering) habit.


Dead lifeless foliage aside, I really do love the space.  On an old episode of Designed to Sell, Lisa LaPorta (cute little thang) explained to the homeowners that they needed to think of their outdoor area as an extension of their home.  I try to heed her advice and treat our little 12' x 18' rectangle of outside space as another room.  A room to grill in, to entertain friends in and to soak in all of the sunlight that we typically miss out on from living in a humbly-sized condo on the ground level.

Oh, and there's just enough room to display my priceless objet d'outside arts.

Like the jaundiced gnome who clearly needs to get out and see more parts of the globe.


(There's no escaping the punnage.  Not in this home.)

The cheery winged pig who, after three treacherous winters, has resisted rain, wind, snow and patina.


Resourceful lushery.


I can't help but wonder if I'm headed down that road.  You know, that road that leads you to that house with that lawn with the flamingos and the pinwheels and the wooden cutout of a portly gardening woman's buttcheeks.

If you ever sense that I'm heading in that direction, you have permission to throw a flaming fern in my face's general vicinity.

Alright, this patio is begging for some new life.  Time to get crackin'.

Friday, April 15, 2011

For Once in My Life.


"Where's my pitcher?"

It seems fitting that the first words to come out of my mouth upon meeting Berry White were beer-related.  Back then, I didn't realize how sentimental they would prove to be for us later in life.  At the time, craft beer was but a glint in our bottles of Amstel Light - the fanaticism wouldn't fully set in for a few more years.  But hey, I was promised a pitcher of cheap beer in return for dance floor support at one of his gigs (which I didn't attend but that's beside the point) and I was simply trying to collect.

Our paths first crossed in 2001 by way of a DC area electronic music forum.  At first, our interactions were sporadic but a few years down the road, we discovered that we went to the same parties, spent many of our Friday nights at Buzz (Studio 54 for the DC rave scene, if you will), hung out in overlapping social circles and shared a strong passion for music and spinning records.  One flirty Myspace comment led to another and eventually, we met in person.

Predictably, a syrupy, disgustingly sweet love affair ensued shortly thereafter.  I say predictably only because I knew long before "real life" introductions were made that I wanted to hang out with this guy.  Fantastic taste in music.  Cute hair.  And funny!  So damn funny.  Man, he could make me laugh.


Baltimore, 2007.  Sweaty warehouse rave.  Febreze would have been nice.

Our lives have changed a bit since we first started dating.  We've since hung up the headphones and broadened our musical horizons.  Late nights in DC have been replaced with Saturday afternoons in the Whole Foods beer section.  We've giddily sung along with friends at their wedding receptions.  Celebrated the births of their children (soon to include another special l'il lady who we'll be meeting in a few weeks.)

We've sipped a saison on Holbox sand.


Been stopped in mid "WTF are we going to do for breakfast?" conversation by an oncoming parade in downtown Montreal, which included Scott Niedermayer in one of those Grey Poupon cars.


Watched loved ones get tipsy on our wedding beer.


But at the end of the day, after all the beer has been consumed and the overnight bags have been unpacked and the playoff games are over, it's just me and that guy.  The guy I refer to as Berry White, a painfully clever combination of his last name and obvious Caucasianness.  Darkenetiks.  Mike.  My husband.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Happy 2nd Anniversary, roomie.  Thanks for making my life one big slumber party.




Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Fritters. Finally.


2007.

Do you know I've had this recipe on my radar for almost four years now?  FOUR.  And I'm just now getting around to making it.  Not that this should come as a huge surprise to myself or to anyone who knows me.  Procrastination and I go way back, further back than I care to admit here or to any of my future hypothetical offspring.

The procrastinating game is a lot harder to master when you're a child sharing living quarters with the Homework Nazi (love you Mom!)  Not once did she buy into my "But I work better under pressure!" rebuttal.  Had I known then what I know now, I would have given myself more than a night's worth to create that Charlotte's Web diorama and made these fritters as a peace offering to her for being a mom who simply gave a damn.


Peanut Butter Fritters

3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
peanut oil, for frying
whipped cream and jam, for serving

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the the dry ingredients:  flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients:  buttermilk, peanut butter, egg and vanilla.  

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry mixture and stir until combined.


Pour peanut oil into a small, deep saucepan until there's about 1 1/2 inches of oil.  Heat on medium-high until the oil hits 310 degrees.  It starts to climb pretty quickly so keep an eye on your thermometer.

Carefully drop rounded teaspoons of batter into the oil, working in small batches.  Fry the fritters for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side until lightly browned.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel-lined, oven-safe plate.  Keep the fritters warm in the oven while you work through the remaining batter.

Fantastic when plain.


Fantasticer with whipped cream and jam.


These are money.  Although I don't suggest waiting four years to discover that for yourself.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Sugared Cinema: Anchorman (2004)


I'll give this little cookie an hour before we're doing the no-pants dance.  Time to musk up.

Wow.  Never ceases to amaze me.  What cologne you gonna go with?  London Gentleman, or wait.  No, no, no.  Hold on.  Blackbeard's Delight. 

No, she gets a special cologne...it's called Sex Panther by Odeon.  It's illegal in nine countries.  Yep, it's made with bits of real panther, so you know it's good. 


Will Ferrell is a given.  That we've always known.  But Paul Rudd?  Who would have thought that he would turn out to be such a funny dude?  I didn't think he had it in him.  Certainly not after seeing him settle into the good guy role in Clueless and Romeo + Juliet.  There's only one explanation:  Sex Panther.  It's amazing what a little dab can do for your funny bone(r.)


Sex Panther Brownies

brownies, cooled and cut into squares
2 1/2-inch circle cookie cutter
green frosting
molding fondant
black food coloring
Wilton decorating tip #234 (the "grass" tip)

I should mention that I am by no means an artist or sculpter.  I studied a picture and tried to replicate it as best as I could.  If you are able to make this look more cat-like, do it up.  But here's a basic tutorial to get you started.

Start with a ball of fondant, about 2-inches in diameter.  Shape it so the bottom tapers slightly.


Pinch and raise a small portion of the fondant to form ears.


Pinch the center to form a small bridge where the nose and upper lip will be.  Do the same towards the bottom to form a bottom lip.
 

Use a rounded shaping tool or chopstick to push underneath the upper lip on both sides.  Use a sharp tool or knife to mark the nose and eyes.


Push the point of a shaping tool or chopstick under the eyelids to form an area for the pupils.


Use a toothpick to shape the eyes.


Roll two tiny bits of fondant into a fang shape.  Brush a little vodka on the end of the tooth and into the cavity and gently push it in until it sticks.  Repeat with the other tooth.


Now you're ready to paint the little guy.  Mix some black food coloring with about a tablespoon of vodka.  Paint the panther head, making sure to keep the teeth and eyes white.



Dip a toothpick into the vodka/coloring mixture and carefully add the pupils.

Let the sex panther dry while you work on the brownies.

Press the round cookie cutter about halfway into a brownie.  Remove the center (you may need a knife for this part.)


Pipe frosting grass all over the surface and in the center of the brownie.


For Anchorman authenticity purposes, I pushed the cookie cutter back into the hole.  But you can leave it out otherwise.


Gently place the head into the center of the brownie.


Sex Panther.

They've done studies, you know.  60% of the time it works, every time. 

Have a great weekend, friends.  Stay classy.